The migration of Dan. “And six hundred men of the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set forth from Zorah and Eshtaol,” Judges 18:11 informs us. They headed north and conquered the city of Laish, which was far from its rulers in Sidon and therefore poorly protected. The Danites “burned the city with fire … And they rebuilt the City, and dwelt in it. And they named the city Dan, after their ancestor” (Judges 18:27–29).

Moshe Dothan, following the suggestion of Yigael Yadin, believes that the Israelite tribe of Dan and a Sea Peoples tribe, the Danuna or Danaoi, became mixed in the vicinity of Jaffa—which the Bible describes as part of the territory of Dan. After the migration north, the Danites seem to have taken up seafaring. The Song of Deborah (Judges 5) castigates the tribe for having failed to answer her call to do battle against an alliance of Canaanite kings: “And Dan, why did he abide by the ships?” (Judges 5:17).